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Mann Ramblings

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About Mann Ramblings

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    A Real Mann has Tattoos

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    Ann Arbor, Michigan
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    Writing, Drawing, Painting, Making Pottery and designing more tattoos for myself. (It's very addicting.)

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  1. The dread welling in his chest tried to claw its way into his throat. The faint whisper of hope he’d clung to had disintegrated into rotting bits of discarded cloth. Not far ahead, a small clearing bathed in moonlight was visible through a break in the trees. It had to be close. It had to be here. The seductive lunar glow should draw it right to this place, a midnight siren song impossible to resist. First night of the full moon. Jimmy crept towards the clearing and paused when he heard a faint growl mixed with something else unnatural. An insidious chuckle, no human being should be capable of making. The sound echoed around him through the layers of trees, coming from all directions at once. Fringes of panic sparked from the hackles on his neck to the base of his spine, which he promptly stomped out. This wasn’t his first hunt and wouldn’t be the last. Gripping the rifle in both hands, Jimmy widened his eyes and strained his hearing outwards. Where the hell was the target? A soft breeze wafted through the forest, blowing a few strands of hair away from his face. Shit. He was downwind. Stupid. Jimmy spun, too late to stop the weight slamming into him. It shouldered him off his feet and into a nearby log. He flailed his hand out for his rifle, the strap across his chest the only reason it didn’t go flying. Jimmy bolted up onto one knee and aimed his weapon. Ignoring the new ache down his side and back, he twisted in a complete circle, seeing nothing but hearing the demonic laughter bounce around him once again. It was toying with him. The rustle of the underbrush barely gave him warning. He whirled, and it grabbed the muzzle forcing Jimmy to fire into the sky. Staring into its uneven eyes, he smashed the gun’s stock between them with all his strength. The satisfying crunch made it jump back with a snarl, slashing Jimmy’s arm in its wake. Its retreat scattered the leaves and moss, before racing to one side, drawing a circle around him. The target was quick, far faster than he’d been prepared for, making Jimmy's pulse race. He tried to keep the rifle barrel in front of the sprinting shadow, but the pain flashing down his arm shook his hand, slowing his aim. Jimmy lost sight of his prey as it rounded behind a group of bushes, but he could hear the patter of its feet on the soft dirt and the subtle brushing of limbs and foliage as it stalked him through the growth. It wasn’t trying to completely hide its movements anymore. The rushed cadence of his breathing made it more and more difficult to track. Who was the predator now? A searing fire raged through his arm. It unsteadied his aim, meaning he was probably bleeding like a stuck pig, and the damage was bad. With his back stiffening from the first strike, he was at an unfamiliar disadvantage. It was all he could do to focus on the unnatural growls and footfalls trying to herd him. He’d underestimated his quarry, and if he couldn’t rally himself and bring an end to this quickly, he wouldn’t be the only casualty of the night. The urge to run and create some breathing space splashed into his thoughts, but he quashed it. Turning his back on it was the stupidest idea possible. It would chase him down and rip him in half. Running would get him killed. Running was how prey got caught. Running was how prey got killed. But it might be the only option he had. Jimmy measured his breathing and waited, playing the game and letting it continue to until it was right where he needed it to be. “Come and get it, bitch.” He sprinted towards the clearing. The thundering steps came to life behind him, and he whirled and pulled the trigger. Fire and thunder erupted as one into the night. The target let loose an agonizing yelp and Jimmy leaped to one side as it crashed into the ground with a painful roar, spitting a cloud of dried leaves and dirt into the air. Struggling to keep his rifle trained due to his injured arm, Jimmy edged closer as the dust settled. Its growls were diminishing into wet, gurgling, gasps for air. Fortunately, Jimmy had always been a good—or perhaps lucky shot. What lay sprawled in the dirt in front of him was male but wasn't a man. Not exactly. Covered in mangy fur, its face was contorted with a short muzzle filled with sharp, uneven teeth. The powerful wolfen hind legs were exaggerated in size compared to the distorted torso. Its arms were two different lengths of corded muscle, one more canine than the other. Scraps of threadbare fabric matching the clothing he’d found earlier still sat tangled around its limbs. It wasn't human and wasn't a wolf. It was a sad mangled creature stuck somewhere in between. A personification of rage and agony that never should have existed. Blood, dark and glossy in the pale light, continued to seep into its fur. The weakened beast clawed at the ground as it tried to steady itself. Foamy saliva drooled from the twisted mouth, as its eyes, one human and one canine, focused on Jimmy. Its pained whines were caused by more than the bullet wound in its chest. “I’m sorry. It shouldn’t have to be like this.” Lowering the rifle to the ground, Jimmy pulled his pistol, closed in on the creature, and put one more bullet in its head. The creature slumped to the ground, its chest deflating. When all of features sagged, he checked for a heartbeat. Nothing. The forest was once more silent except for Jimmy’s harsh gasps as he waited for what came next. Caught within the moon’s mystical pull, the lifeless body began to twitch and shift. The receding fur exposed the skin in gradual patches, and the sick sound of bones popping and crunching filled the night. Legs straightened and extended back into human and the arms evened out. The snout shrunk back into the face and eventually a dead man lay before him. The only remaining visible damage were the two bloody gunshot wounds and a suspicious bite mark at his neck and shoulder. An odd scent emanated from the body. A mix of what should have been, he understood what it meant, but mentally filed it away for the future. There wasn't time to investigate in more detail. What a waste. Jimmy stared into the lifeless eyes and swallowed down the guilt threatening to rise. He didn't recognize the young man before him, but it wasn't what this was about. There was nothing personal in this hunt. The creature was uncontrolled and feral. Trapped between forms, it had to be in agony. This kind of pain would make anyone crazed, man or beast. Travesties of nature had to be put down. He'd done what was necessary and required, but it didn't mean he had to like carrying out his duty. Blood dripped off his burning arm into the dirt, looking blackened in the low light, but he ignored it as best he could. More important things needed to be done before he could call this job complete. The moon was still high, leaving him with several hours before sunrise, but it didn't lessen the urgency. After gathering his rifle, he tracked back to his truck, stowed the weapons, and collected a blanket and shovel. Putting it in neutral, he pushed the target's car deeper into the trees to temporarily hide it. He'd drive it to a secluded location after he was finished. Jimmy had driven this road enough to know it wasn't popular. At this time of night, it could be hours before another vehicle passed by. Finding the path back to the dead man was simple enough. Blood still seeped out of the target's wounds, by force of gravity rather than heartbeat, marring what would have been a strong, firm man. It was hard to look at him as Jimmy stripped out of his clothing, laying it all into a neat pile. There was plenty of dirt on his clothing from the hunt, but getting the target's blood on them could come back to haunt him later. He could rinse himself off in the nearby creek a mile or so south of his location once his work was finished. It felt good to be free of the garments. He stretched out his limbs, always believing the hardened slabs of powerful muscle were better off being kissed by nature. The sensation helped corral the moral weight of his actions. They burdened his massive shoulders as he wrapped the limp body in the dark cotton blanket. No matter how many times he performed this duty, it never became easier to swallow down. But who else could be trusted with the task? With the shovel in one hand and the bundle hoisted over the other shoulder, Jimmy trod deeper into the clearing, his powerful physique bearing the body with only a hint of strain. Under the grace of the lunar aura, perhaps this poor soul could find some peace. Jimmy was unlikely to find the same any time soon. Resting the carpeted evidence nearby, Jimmy broke ground with the shovel, digging hard through stone ridden soil. He slaved with a fierce determination, powering below the surface, refusing to rest. Hours drifted by as the dirt mixed with perspiration, mud staining every sinew and crevice of his naked flesh. Wet clumps caked and pulled on the hairs on his chest and legs, but he ignored the pinches and the slices on his arm. There wasn't time for such nonsense. Six feet deep was a long way down into the earth. By the time he finished, the top of his head barely rose above the edge. He tossed the shovel out and took measure of his work. This would be sufficient, but he felt no satisfaction or pride. He wondered if it should be himself at the bottom of the hole instead of trading places with the poor soul wrapped above ground. But then someone else would be forced to do the job and he couldn't live with himself over the idea. After climbing out, he placed the body back at the bottom of the makeshift grave, taking care not to drop the bundle. Jimmy stood, looking down at the unmoving roll. How unfair this was. The man inside had no chance really. His fate was sealed the moment the bite shared its curse. There had been no choice. “Please, forgive me,” Jimmy whispered. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath and paused. This duty was unwelcome, but it was something he had a talent for. It gave him a place in the circle he needed ever since he left Louisiana. With a ragged exhale, he gripped the shovel and started the slow process of filling the hole. The sound of dirt raining into the grave cast a shiver down his spine. He couldn't look at the bundle as the earth closed over it. Hopefully, there could be some salvation after all the questionable acts he'd committed. If not, his future was bleak indeed. The huge mound of soil mocked him as he finished piling on the last scoop of dirt. Time and elements would reclaim this area long before anyone discovered this untouched clearing. No one would ever know where this young man lay, whatever his name was. Unknown and damned, that was his sad fate. Shame swelled his chest and he released the shovel; the metal clattered against a series of freshly exposed rocks. This shouldn't have happened. It was a violation of the natural order, bringing an innocent to ruin. Jimmy couldn't wash the blood off his filthy hands if he tried. A moss covered log made a makeshift seat for Jimmy to settle onto. His head dropped forward as exhaustion began to suffuse him even through his muscles were still strong. Every inch of skin felt filthy and unkempt with more than simply his efforts. Staring at the wet dirt painting his feet, he raked his muddy fingers through his thick locks and across his scalp. Stray hairs tugged, snagged in the harsh stubble along his jaw. As he said a silent prayer over the unmarked grave, his eyes filled with anger and regret. Pushing his mud soaked hair from his face with his dirty hands, Jimmy glared at the moon, its beauty a fickle mistress in her power. The ancient icon cast its spell on all the creatures of the night, a force of something more than tides and reflected light. The moon whispered to her wayward children when she was full, and the call was unmistakable. Some weren't strong enough to resist her seduction. Some no longer wanted to. Jimmy threw back his head and let the pull from her take hold. His body began to shiver as his flesh contorted, the skeletal shape shifting underneath. Throwing himself forward onto all fours, his bones reformed and distorted. Fur sprouted from every pore as his face elongated and sharp teeth thrust out, filling his jaws. Sharp pains lanced every inch of him and his thoughts retreated to protect themselves, leaving him underneath the fearsome wolf shaking out its grey and brown coat. The unnaturally large wolf sniffed and stepped around the grave's perimeter until sitting before it, facing the voiceless moon. Titling its head back, he let loose a terrible howl filled with agony and mourning into the night sky. It would be heard only by the silent wildlife.
  2. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 1

    believe it or not, that's just where the word count ended. Cliffie-unintentional
  3. Mann Ramblings

    Chapter 1

    Thanks for giving it a fair shake. I hope I can keep your interest. The chapter sizes may be a bit bigger in the future weeks while I can, so there will likely be a mix of chapter sizes, minimum 1k per week. This way I can work on more than one project at a time.
  4. had a glitch that put Phases of Moon in Temporary Hold, but I've fixed that and we're off and running.

    Part 1 is posted. Let's get this on the road...


  5. Under the phases of the moon, Jimmy Coutreau is hunting, following the howls that don't belong. A loner by choice, he finds himself fascinated by Sawyer Thomas, a man who doesn't belong in his world, but here he is anyways.
  6. Acrid with a touch of carbon and sulfur, burnt rubber carried its oily scent into the air. Fresh skid marks marred the asphalt, highlighted by the harsh glow of the full moon, drawing an unmistakeable path to the red taillights shining in the night. An abandoned metal beast along the side of the quiet country road. Climbing out of his piano black Ford F-150, Jimmy Coutreau crept closer, keeping a firm grip on his loaded sidearm. Peering inside the driver’s side wide open door, the overhead light dimly showcased the empty interior. Local radio banter overlapped the car’s annoying seatbelt chime. The tire streaks on the road were roughly straight from a hard breaking, and the car had no visible impact marks, having stopped well short of the tree line. Unmanned in the dark, it sat just off the shoulder in the dirt. The license plate matched. It was the car he’d been searching for. Without making any additional noise, he took a wary scan of the area as he thumbed the safety off his weapon. The welcome moonlight may have been shining bright, but black shadows littered the area. No traffic in the distance. No rustling in the trees. No crickets. No active wildlife to be heard. Footprints in the surrounding sand were scattered and frenzied, leading off into the looming forest. The engine was still warm and running, so they likely hadn’t gotten far. And he knew he was being watched. He pulled the key from the ignition, bringing a newfound silence to the area. No hint of sound, the whole forest was on edge and alert. The car was less visible shut down, but Jimmy knew time and luck could be fickle. He pocketed the keys in case he needed to move the vehicle and strode back to his own truck. After a decent drive from the site, he pulled off the road and backed his truck up into the shadowed tree line. He didn’t need locals hassling him with questions he couldn’t answer right now. It wasn’t safe for anyone. Under the cloak of an outcropping of trees, he keyed open the reinforced lock box in the cab. He strapped his hunting knife to his thigh, slung his rifle over his shoulder, and stowed his pistol in the holster under his left arm. Loaded and ready, he locked up and double-timed it back to the site on foot before he lost the trail and something horrible happened. Nothing about these jobs ever sat well with him. Dirt crunched under his boots as gently as possible despite the urgency. No need to announce himself more than necessary. Scant minutes passed before he came to a stop at the abandoned car once again. Jimmy took one last longing look at the full moon, its silver caress an unfair tease this evening. Low and dominant in the sky, a man could see in all directions from the ethereal shine, giving an unnatural life to the shadows. He should be reveling—celebrating—the sultry magic of the moon’s cycle with prayers of abundance instead of charging ahead into this seedy mission. But there was no one else to do the job, so here he stood waiting to be swallowed by the forest. Moonlight glinting off the gunmetal in his hands, Jimmy plunged between the trees, following the haphazard trail of footprints into the deep dark. Other men of his size would have made more sound stalking into the forest, but growing up, Jimmy had learned how to be one with the wild Louisiana outdoors. He knew how to treat the land. Step quick and lively, yet leave no trace, no trail for outsiders to find. A cautionary motto ingrained into him since he was a child. These, however, were not the forests of his youth, and the danger hidden within would become far worse if not contained. Stiffening with sweat, the tips of his wavy dark hair itched the skin along the collar of his snug, black t-shirt. Although the summer months here were nothing like the sweltering heat of his old home, Jimmy had been surprised the northern Michigan nights could carry this kind of humidity. Was it the weather slicking his skin or his growing sense of alarm with each passing step? Jimmy cast his hearing outward to find nothing. No insect chirping, no scurrying nocturnal life to be heard. Only the rustle of leaves brought on by a soft, muggy breeze sieved through the trees. The forest’s life sat still as death, the way nature does in the presence of a vicious predator. Instinct told him, for once, the predator wasn’t him. He may not have been able to see or hear it, but the target was still in here with him. Even with his excellent night vision, the scant moonlight filtering through the treetops made tracking easier. Foot-wide scatterings of leaves and reckless broken branches carved a sloppy path into the dark. He caught sight of something that didn’t belong at the base of a nearby tree. A piece of tattered cloth. The fabric was too clean to have been there long. Jimmy picked up the sad remnants of a short-sleeved linen shirt, catching the subtle hint of men’s cologne. Dropping it, he made a wide circle, looking and listening for more evidence. Nothing made itself known, but he could feel it out there. Waiting. So he continued. No effort had been made to hide the trail. It could have followed it in pitch black by an amateur. Nothing had been obscured. A pair of casual shoes unsuitable for hiking laid just outside the trenched moss, the brown leather exploded out in ragged shards, the sole barely hanging on. Moments later, he came across a pair of shredded jeans. Like all the rest, the denim appeared to have been stretched to its limits and lost the fight. The seams bound the remaining scraps together by a mass of threads.
  7. A new story is coming, starting next Wednesday.

    For now, it will be in the 1k format so I can make sure I can get words down. The current world crisis has messed with my head enough that creative focus is messy. However, I've always done well with deadlines. Once I get going, I refuse to miss a week and I can feel good about that. So I'm hoping I can work on more than one project this way, and still manage to post regularly. Who knows? Maybe if things go well, like the previous stories, the 1k format won't be permanent.

    Keep a look out for the new paranormal story, Phases of Moon. See you Wednesday. ;) 

    Moon Phases banner.png

    1. Daddydavek


      1k is better than 0k, but I'll never be a fan of the short format....

    2. Puppilull


      Yay! And I like the 1k! Maybe I'll be hungry for more,  but I'll always have time to read the chapter.

  8. Okay - I need some suggestions. I'm trying to make a decision on a first name for a young man in the 1940s/50s for a main character.

    He comes from a good, conservative Catholic family: father is a WWII veteran and mother is a scandal avoiding social climber. Last name Collins.

    I originally had decided on James, but I have a Jimmy in another WIP that I refuse to give up and don't want to have similar names in potentially two stories/novels. I need something period appropriate and I've stumped myself for a final choice. It's one of those things that keep me distracted, so I'm asking for some help!

    Please! Help me name my MC!!!

    1. Show previous comments  10 more
    2. Ron


      Gordon wasn’t my suggestion but a 1st cousin did marry a man named Gordy. So there’s that.:P

    3. Ron


      But... she divorced him after having two children. So there’s that, too.:music:

    4. Ron


      Also, Collin is a Welsh surname meaning hazel or hazel grove. According to Wikipedia every other surname reference seems like a stretch, so if you were to mention any eye coloring for Joseph hazel might be appropriately simpatico.

  9. Get to know them biblically...
  10. Confirmed: Adrift will be moving to Premium on May 1


  11. Just a reminder: Adrift will be moving into Premium soon - Probably by May 1


    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. Carlos Hazday

      Carlos Hazday


      right click on browser's address display, copy, paste on update. Not sure how it works on Apple.


    3. Reader1810


      On my Apple tablet, I select the story url, then copy and paste it into the post letting it sit for a second as there seems to be a slight delay for the image to pop up. Once it’s there, I hit save and that i it. 

    4. Mann Ramblings

      Mann Ramblings

      I used the "link" button at the top instead of pasting directly into the text. Now I know...

  12. Mann Ramblings

    Beach Bottles

    I'm expensive...
  13. I haven't had fast food in over a month. If I haven't lost some weight, I'm gonna be really pissed.



    1. Carlos Hazday

      Carlos Hazday

      How many twinkies have you eaten?

    2. Mann Ramblings

      Mann Ramblings

      Zero. There has been dessert, but the hubby is dishing it out and he rations serving sizes. The only risk of overeating these days is because I sit on my ass all day trying to accomplish something.

  14. If you haven't finished reading Adrift, you might want to do so soon. The date's not set in stone yet, but it will be moving into Premium, most likely this spring.

    You'll have at least a couple weeks before the switch!

    1. Carlos Hazday

      Carlos Hazday

      You know something? The least you could have done is provide potential readers a link. Lucky for you, I'm willing to play wingman. :P


    2. Mann Ramblings

      Mann Ramblings

      I actually forgot I could do that...

    3. mollyhousemouse


      Oh well, crap!
      i need to add that to the list too!

  15. story research. In a bar, the good liquor is considered top shelf. What the phrase for the cheap bottles the bartender keeps handy for basic drinks? House liquor?
    I used to know this back when I was a barfly. Grr...
    1. Reader1810


      My curiosity got the better of me (it always does, just ask @Carlos Hazday :P ) so I did a little research. I came up with this answer to your question more than once.



      Top Shelf. (adj.) The highest quality — and therefore most expensive — bottles of alcohol available. Most bars will keep these bottles on the literal top shelf, versus the cheaper “well liquor” that is kept within reach.Jun 29, 2016


      Does that ring any bells? 

    2. Mann Ramblings

      Mann Ramblings

      That's what I was looking for. I couldn't remember the phrase. My barfly days are far behind me...

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